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In the book ‘Everyday Use’, jealousy is depicted in several ways. It is a fact that favoring one child among many brings about sibling rivalry. In effect jealousy springs out and can lead to several things. In ‘Everyday Use’, Maggie, a younger sister to Dee, is jealous of her elder sister. Dee is more attractive and more stylish. ‘Maggie looks at her sister with a mixture of envy and awe’(Walker 1006). This is because she suffers from wounds obtained as a result of an inferno earlier in life. The main theme in this story concerns the characters’ associations to their ancestral heredity.
Dee Johnson does believe that by affirming her African birthright through change of her name, her facade and her mannerism, though her relations have lived in the US for a number of generations, she cannot deny her African heritage. Dee receives western education, unlike her younger sister and mother. Maggie believes that Dee always gets everything Dee wants. Dee seldom gets no for a reply thus making her a very providential individual. Hakim A Barber, the only male character in their lives, is at Dee’s beck and call. He is ordered around by Dee, and this is another factor that makes Maggie jealous of her sister.
On another scene, ungratefulness is displayed by Dee. Dee was born in an African family. She was afforded better opportunities in life than her younger sister Maggie. Earlier in life, their family house gets burnt down. Dee’s younger sister Maggie is trapped in the inferno and ends up seriously scarred. Maggie has down her arms and legs, and we are told that Dee is least affected by this scenario. She is very indifferent about the role her mother and sister Maggie play in her life. Dee is named after an aunt by her mother.
In the African culture, it is a great honour to be named after a significant person. Dee’s mother explains this to her, but she brushes off her mother probably because of her mother’s limited education. Dee changes her name to an African name. Dee says that she does not desire to bear the names of those people who persistently oppress her people(Walker1009). She is very proud to be African but for all the wrong reasons. Wangero Lewanika Kemanjo is Dee’s new name. Wangero also has a boyfriend that she does not appreciate. Hakim A Barber is the name of this man in her life.
Wangero takes advantage of this man, and ends up ordering him around. In an interview Alice Walker explains “Hakim A Barbers” significance “I am intrigued by the religion of the black Muslims…. Everyday Use a story that shows respect for the “militance”and progressive agricultural programs of the muslims, but the same tie shows skeptism about a young man who claims attachment to the Muslims because he admires the rhetoric. ” I think that although its not really discussed in Everyday Use Mrs Johnson is also very jealous when it comes to Dee’s relationship with Hakim.
Wangero wants to acquire her mother’s legacy of quilts. These were very valuable to the whole family considering that the quilts were all stitched by hand and made of little pieces of family dresses. Maggie is the uglier, scarred, less flamboyant, less confident, more traditional, less educated sister rather than Wangero. Their mother probably does this because she supposes that Maggie will value the family heir looms more than Dee. Dee is the one who would treat Maggie and her mother better if they were lighter in complexion. Education had alienated Dee from her traditions.
She does not fully understand her heritage and only wants to acquire the family heir looms so as to satisfy her esteem needs. It is good that her mother identifies Dee’s ungratefulness early enough. The fact that Maggie, Dee’s younger sister who does not much up to Dee, gets the family heir loom, probably astonishes Dee. Dee is most definitely jealous of this decision by her mother. She probably thinks her western education places her in a better position to watch over family treasures (Walker 1012). She must think that her ignorant sister is most probably going to lose the family legacy.
Dee is depicted as a self-centred and egotistic young lady. She has an illusion that everything, including the universe revolves around her. This character trait is brought out when Dee refuses to take heed to her mother’s counsel. Dee’s mother made attempt to discourage Dee from changing her name but to no avail. The theme of ungratefulness is well brought out through this incident. It clearly illustrates Dee’s lack of appreciation to the name she was given as a child. Dee completely disregards her mother’s opinion about changing her birth name to an African name.
Maggie and her mother make elaborate plans to welcome Dee back home. In return, Dee does not show any recognition they made. They made the compound spick and span, but Dee hardly recognized their efforts. On the other hand, Maggie and her mother also bring out the theme of ungratefulness. Dee has contributed a lot to society, but they fail to recognize her efforts. In essence most of the characters display this very undesirable character trait. In conclusion, jealousy can lead someone to take drastic measures that cause regret in the long run. The fact that Dee chooses to abandon her family shows how ungrateful she is .